Category Archives: Events

Water Yam

It isn’t often that our artists’ books get a performance, but that is the case with the new acquisition of George Brecht’s Water Yam (Fluxus no. C, 1963). At 4:30 on Friday, November 16, 2018, music major Tim Ruszala will present a Junior Paper recital about Fluxus, a radical avant-garde interdisciplinary art movement of the early 1960s.

He writes, “A large part of their corpus consisted of written instructions or short phrases, intended for performance / reflection, and the pieces were often framed in musical terms or had to do with questioning art production and conventions of consumption.” Tim will hold a recital in Theatre Intime of a selection of interesting pieces that he found in this process, including Brecht’s Water Yam.

When the BBC described Water Yam, they noted:

In a series of classes given at the New School for Social Research between 1956 and 1960, John Cage influenced a generation of artists who would develop the performance script into an art form, and lay the ground for Happenings and Fluxus. Having earlier embraced chance compositional procedures as a means of effacing his own likes and dislikes (and, as he put it, ” imitating nature in her manner of operation”), Cage encouraged students who already were using chance in their work – such as George Brecht and Jackson Mac Low – and prompted others – such as Allan Karpow, Dick Higgins and Al Hanson – to do so. And his classroom assignments led to instructions for events and performances that yielded some of the most important intermedia activity of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Out of the Cage class came the kind of event cards for which Fluxus would become well-known, an evocative form whose power is best appreciated in the 1959-66 works of George Brecht published by the movement’s impresario George Maciunas in a box called Water Yam. While most Fluxus event cards are performance scripts, Water Yam also includes instructions for the creation of objects or tableaux–obscure directions whose realization left almost everything to the realizer. In such works as Six Exhibits (“ceiling, first wall, second wall, third wall, fourth wall, floor”) and Egg (“at least one egg”), Brecht applied to objects and physical situations the freedom of execution and openness to serendipity that is the hallmark of a Fluxus performance.

Water Yam, arranged by George Brecht ([New York]: Fluxus, [1963?]). 1 cardboard box with 76 cards. Fluxus ; no. C. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process

The First Photography Book

On the occasion of the exhibition Blue Prints: the Pioneering Photographs of Anna Atkins (1799-1871), The New York Public Library invited distinguished scholars in the fields of photography, conservation, natural history, and rare books to discuss her photography and its resonance. During today’s symposium panelists and speakers discussed the broader context in which she created her momentous production, as well as characteristics unique to Atkins’s pioneering work.

Participants included Joshua Chuang, Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Associate Director for Art, Prints and Photographs, and The Robert B. Menschel Senior Curator of Photography, NYPL; Rose Teanby, Independent historian, Associate of the Royal Photographic Society; Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, Bodleian Library, Oxford; Steffen Siegel, Professor, Folkwang University of Arts, Essen; Jessica McDonald, Curator of Photography, Harry Ransom Center; Mary Oey, Head of Conservation and Collections Care, NYPL; Jessica Keister, Associate Conservator for Photographs, NYPL; Kenneth Karol, Curator, Cullman Program for Molecular Systematics, New York Botanical Garden; Normand Trudel, Librarian for Rare Books, University of Montreal; Alice Lemaire, Conservator, Muséum national d’histoire naturelle, Paris; Nancy Barr, Curator of Photographs, Detroit Institute of Arts; and Julia Van Haaften, founding Curator, Photography Collection, NYPL. Few institutions hold either parts or a complete set of Photographs of British Algae and so, we are all grateful that NYPL has digitized their copy.

Speakers all agreed that Anna Atkins’ role in the narrative of early photography has been acknowledged only within the last 40 years. Since the publication of Larry J. Schaaf’s Sun Gardens: Victorian Photograms by Anna Atkins, [Marquand Oversize TR688 .S32q] scholars have built on this groundbreaking research and fortified the larger context of her work.

Although now famous for being the first book produced with photographic illustrations, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions has been viewed as an artwork, a scientific document, a rare book, and more.

We now call Atkins the first female photographer. Although women were not allowed to join The Royal Society of London, Atkins contributed three volumes to the Society containing 433 photographic images in 1843, preceding William Henry Fox Talbot’s Pencil of Nature, published in 1844.

One of many interesting observations made today was the presences of blue dyed paper as a support for photographs throughout the 19th century, including work by Julia Margaret Cameron [left]. Ovenden noted the trouble with impurities in papers that could be easily concealed under the blue coloring.





Atkins’ photographic images were created as an accompaniment to William Henry Harvey’s 1841 guide entitled British Algae [Recap 8753.436], which had no illustrations. The two volumes are meant to be read side–by-side, Atkins’ images faithfully corresponding with Harvey’s survey.

A Nincompoop and Other Prints


Princeton University class “Caricature and Modernity: 1776-1914” (ART 453/ECS 453) visited the Graphic Arts Collection this week to view prints and watercolors by James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, and other British caricaturists.

With frequent bursts of laughter, the class looked primarily at the collection of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895, who donated several thousand prints, drawings, and illustrated books to the Princeton University Library.

“Caricature, based on the distortion of the human face for comic effect, challenged the ideally beautiful,” reads the class description, “and the academic art training that developed in Western Europe after the Renaissance. This course will examine the explosion of caricatural prints and comic illustrated books in France, Great Britain, and the United States from the revolutions of 1776 and 1789 to World War I. Topics will include the political role of satire in the newly defined public sphere; the influence of physiognomy and racial theories on caricatural depictions; the invention of the comic strip; and the origins of Dada and Cubism in comic illustration.”

The invention of laughing gas is celebrated below:

Reports were prepared on Gillray’s Tom Paine’s Nightly Pest (1792); King of Brobdingnag and Gulliver (1803); Matrimonial Harmonics (1805); and Advantages of Wearing Muslin Dresses! (1818). In addition, they studied Rowlandson’s Drawing from Life at the Royal Academy, Somerset House (1808); A Nincompoop or Henpecked Husband (1807); The Anatomist (1811); and Breaking up the Bluestocking Club (1815), among many others.

Next week they move on to Paris and Charles Philipon’s La Caricature with Daumier, Grandville, and other French caricaturists.

Attributed to Henry William Bunbury (1750–1811), The Long Minuet as Danced at Bath (after 1787).




The Battle of Princeton and the [later] Death of Mercer

One of the rare items pulled for the Princeton University class “Battle Lab” (HUM 350/ART 302/AMS 352) was a series of preparatory sketches by John Trumbull (1756–1843) for his painting, The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777.

The students were asked where and when did Brigadier General Hugh Mercer (1726-1777) actually die? Answer: Mercer died in the Thomas Clarke House on the eastern end of the battlefield, nine days after the battle ended.

The students examined a cannon ball found in April 1896 near Princeton Battlefield and grapeshot found November 1941 by Dr. Henry E. Hale, one yard northerly from north west corner of the Thomas Clarke House in which Gen. Mercer died 12 Jan. 1777, found under the room in which he died (Gift of Cora A. Margenem).

This framed section of The Apotheosis of George Washington uses an image taken from a 1781 print by Valentine Green after a painting by John Trumbull, and printed on fabric by an English textile designer. Here Washington is driving a chariot drawn by leopards, accompanied by the figure of America in a plumed headdress. This is one part of a larger design that originally also included The Apotheosis of Benjamin Franklin and was used as wall paper, bed linen, and other decorative fabrics.

Students were also shown two swords, one which appears in the Washington textile and the other similar to one in Trumbull’s battle scene.

Among the seminal American documents shown was a first printing of the Declaration of Independence, printed by John Dunlap (1747-1812) and “signed by order and in behalf of the Congress, John Hancock, president. Attest. Charles Thomson, secretary.” Acquired December, 1940, William H. Scheide Library.

There are two states noted by Frederick Goff, differing in the placement of the imprint. In the earlier state, the P of Philadelphia is located directly beneath the comma following Thomson’s name. In the later state the P is located directly beneath the n of Thomson’s name. Goff notes also a proof copy (imperfect), held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, exhibiting differences in punctuation and in the insertion in line 13 of the word ‘a’ before the word ‘new.’ Cf. Goff, F.R. The John Dunlop broadside: the first printing of the Declaration of Independence, 1976. See also Walsh, M.J. “Contemporary Broadside editions of the Declaration of Independence.” Harvard Library Bulletin 3 (1949): 31-43, 1.

(left) Thomas Paine (1737-1809); (center) George Washington (1732-1799); (right) Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) from the Laurence Hutton Collection of Life and Death Masks Note the sunken faces of Paine and Franklin, whose false teeth had been removed before the mold was taken.


Thanks to the donation of Malcolm S. Forbes, Class of 1941, we have a collection of American Revolutionary War soldiers in the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. The group consists of no.158 of a limited set of models of the officers and men of American, British, and Hessian regiments that fought in the battles of Trenton (December 26, 1776) and Princeton (January 2-3, 1777). These 39 models were made to order for the Princeton Battlefield Area Preservation Society by Blenheim Military Models, Glamorgan, Wales.

A variety of other reliquaries, maps, and engravings were also included in the exciting class.

Bad Taxidermy and other books

The tables at this year’s NY Art Book Fair varied enormously from floor to ceiling installations inside PS1, to plastic lawn chairs in the outside tent. Many regulars were not present this year, replaced by galleries and university presses.

Highlights included a digital capture of Central Park weather represented not with numbers or text but music by Sara Bouchard; Ellsworth Kelly’s commission for the Germany’s national newspaper Die Welt, in which he replaced every news photo with a silhouette of one of his artworks; and free copies of Ann Messner’s commission for Franklin Furnace Archive Inc and The Pratt Institute Libraries called “The Free Library and Other Histories.” (link to your own copy here:

A number of events take place in the Basement Theater, including the announcement of the 2018 Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation photoBook awards shortlist, celebrating the photobook’s contribution to the evolving narrative of photography. Showcasing the best recently published books across three major categories: First PhotoBook, PhotoBook of the Year, and Photography Catalogue of the Year.


Integrating the Declaration of Independence with the Declaration of Human Rights

The official re-opening yesterday of the subway station at the World Trade Center’s Cortlandt stop also brought the unveiling of “CHORUS” by Ann Hamilton. According to the MTA Arts & Design committee Hamilton’s marble mosaic was commissioned soon after the station was destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“Hamilton’s wall installation, titled “CHORUS,” spans a total of 4,350 square feet and is integrated into the architectural design of the station and the World Trade Center Transportation Hub to which it is connected. Small marble tesserae form a white-on-white surface and spell out text from the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The tactile surface invites subway riders to touch the text as they read the words, creating meaningful personal encounters meant to acknowledge the civic ideals and aspirations of humanity and society.” A selection from the MTA press release:

“Artists have the extraordinary ability to use their vision and creative process to create deeply meaningful civic places. Ann Hamilton creates a place that speaks to our highest ideals,” said Sandra Bloodworth, Director of MTA Arts & Design. “The woven text of her tactile walls moves us through the WTC Cortlandt station, acknowledging its historic significance and embracing the rights embodied in universally shared declarations.”

A MacArthur and a Guggenheim fellow, Hamilton is known in particular for her many site-specific projects in American libraries integrating text and architecture. She was also honored with the National Medal of Arts in 2015, the highest award given to artists by the U.S. government. “Culture is built upon and with the words and languages of people, their aural and written documents, collectively produced and shared in common,” said Hamilton. “‘CHORUS’ is a testimony to the ideas and ideals these national and international documents embody and demonstrate.”

Welcome Visiting Scholars and Artists from Puerto Rico

The Graphic Arts Collection welcomed the second of two groups from the 2018 visiting scholars and artists from Puerto Rico (VISAPUR) together with their hosts Alma Concepción and Arcadio Díaz-Quiñones.

The Program in Latin American Studies (PLAS) is hosting members of the academic and artistic communities of Puerto Rico as visitors at Princeton University this summer. This effort aims to provide relief to scholars, students, and artists affected by the catastrophic aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria by allowing them to continue their work at Princeton on a temporary basis. The VISAPUR program provides a range of support including a stipend to cover living expenses, office space, access to libraries and other scholarly material, and an opportunity to engage with colleagues at Princeton.

The program is sponsored and managed by PLAS and the Office of the Provost, with the endorsement of the Princeton Task Force on Puerto Rico. Additional support has been provided by the Firestone Library, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, Department of Music, American Studies Program, Program in Dance, Princeton Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism & the Humanities, Lewis Center for the Arts, Office of the Dean of the Faculty, Office of the Dean of the College, Graduate School, Office of the Registrar, and the Housing and Real Estate Services office.

Special thanks to professor emeritus Arcadio Díaz Quiñones, former PLAS director and professor of Spanish and Portuguese, for his leadership and commitment to the project.

As we were looking at programs designed by Lorenzo Homar, we found a photograph of Alma Concepción when she was dancing with the Ballets de San Juan in 1954. A former soloist with the San Juan Ballet and Antonio’s Ballet of Spain, she received her early training in Puerto Rico followed by study in New York at the School of American Ballet and at American Ballet Theatre. Ms. Concepcion is the founder of Taller de Danza, a children’s movement and dance grassroots organization based in Trenton. She is also a member of the Society of Dance History Scholars and has written many articles, mainly on Caribbean music and dance.

Here are a few of the prints, drawings, and printed books we enjoyed:

Plenas: 12 grabados de Lorenzo Homar y Rafael Tufiño; introducción por Tomás Blanco; diseño de Irene Delano. San Juan, P.R., Editorial Caribe, 1955. Copy 540. Graphic Arts Collection Oversize NE585.H66 A4 1955q

Rafael Tufino (1922-2008), Elmer Adler Homenaje [Poster from memorial exhibition at the Gallery Fundador de la Casa del Libro]. Graphic Arts Collection

Lorenzo Homar (1913-2004) [Sketchbook created during Homar’s army days in Korea during World War II]. 1945. Pencil and pen drawings. Graphic Arts Collection

Lorenzo Homar (1913-2004), Pablo Casals, 1955. Inscribed in ink along right margin: ‘Offset lithography BUT: The experiment went like this: I silkscreen black ink over an acetate sheet (clear). Then, over a light table I scratched this head of Don Pablo thus making a negative. When exposed over a sens.” Graphic Arts Collection

Lorenzo Homar (1913-2004), El Maestro // [The Master], 1972. Includes two quotations from speeches given by Pedro Albizu Campos (1891-1965) in 1930. Graphic Arts Collection

Lorenzo Homar (1913-2004), Alma, 1983. Graphic Arts Collection

Tomás Blanco, Tres estrofas de amor para soprano; musica de Pablo Casals; illustrada en serigrafia por Lorenzo Homar (San Juan, P.R.: Galeria Calibri, 1970). Copy no. 26. “La edicion consta de 150 ejemplares firmados y numerados en papel “Arches” asi distribuidos : del uno al cien en numeros arabicos; veinte ejemplares, del uno al veinte en numeros romanos … ” Graphic Arts Collection

Lorenzo Homar (1913-2004), Sala fray Bartolome de Las Casas, 1992. Carved woodblock. GA 2007.04029. Gift of Princeton University’s Program in Latin American Studies.

Salmos, versos de Ernesto Cardenal; grabados de Antonio Martorell (San Juan de Puerto Rico: Martorell, 1971). “Esta selección de versos … impresosá mano … en papel japonés “Okawara” caligrafiados individualmente firmados y numerados por el grabador en edición limitada a 200 ejemplares se comenzó a imprimir el 18 de octubre de 1971 en el Taller Alacrán.” Princeton copy is no. 24. Graphic Arts Collection Oversize 2006-0078F

Luis Palés Matos, Puerta al tiempo en tres voces; grabados de Consuelo Gotay (Puerto Rico: Taller de las Plumas, 1998). “Edición limitada a 35 ejemplares y 10 pruebas de artista.”–Colophon. “Textos: Arcadio Díaz Quin̂ones.” Graphic Arts Collection Oversize 2006-0221Q

Luis Palés Matos, Esta noche he pasado; xilografías Raquel Noemi Quijano Feliciano (San Juan, Puerto Rico : Taller El Polvorín, 2003). Copy: No. 6. Graphic Arts Collection Oversize 2006-0076E

Making and Knowing Prints

On Sunday there was a public lecture entitled, “A History of European Printmaking Processes in the 15th and 16th Centuries, with Their Antecedents” given byAd Stijnman at Columbia University to kick off a week of printmaking hosted by The Making and Knowing Project. It was a colorfully illustrated overview of precursors to relief and intaglio printmaking up to 1400, followed by an extended survey of Europe’s technical developments 1400–1600 in woodcut, metalcut, letterpress, engraving, etching and related printmaking techniques.

According to their website,

The Making and Knowing Project is a research and pedagogical initiative in the Center for Science and Society at Columbia University that explores the intersections between artistic making and scientific knowing. Today these realms are regarded as separate, yet in the earliest phases of the Scientific Revolution, nature was investigated primarily by skilled artisans by means of continuous and methodical experimentation in the making of objects – the time when “making” was “knowing.”

Drawing on techniques from both laboratory and archival research, the Making and Knowing Project crosses the science/humanities divide and explores the relationships between today’s labs and the craft workshops of the past, and between pre-industrial conceptions of natural knowledge and our understanding of science and art today.

Pamela H. Smith and The Making and Knowing Project, “Historians in the Laboratory: Reconstruction of Renaissance Art and Technology in the Making and Knowing Project,” Art History, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp. 210–233.
Pamela H. Smith, “New Directions in Making and Knowing,” West 86th, Volume 21, No. 1 (2016), pp. 3-5.
Donna Bilak, Jenny Boulboullé, Joel A. Klein, Pamela H. Smith, “The Making and Knowing Project: Reflections, Methods, and New Directions,” West 86th, Volume 21, No. 1 (2016), pp. 35-55.
Pamela H. Smith, Amy R. W. Meyers, Harold J. Cook, Ways of Making and Knowing: The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge, Paperback Edition (University of Chicago Press, 2017).

Stay tuned to the Making and Knowing Project for a longer workshop and lectures in October.


Fête des Imprimeurs à Strasbourg

Every two years, the Espace Européen Gutenberg (EEG) in Strasbourg organizes a “Printers’ Day” around the time of Saint John’s Day. This year the celebration will take place June 22-24 and the following locations will be open to the public, with professionals offering demonstrations and exhibits of their work:
1 l’espace Saint-Michel de la cathédrale Notre-Dame
2 la cour intérieure des ateliers de la fondation de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame
3 le musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame
4 la Popartiserie
5 la chapelle des évangélistes de l’église Saint-Thomas
6 la place Gutenberg

The EEG includes a wide variety of Printing and Graphic Arts professionals. This is a separate celebration from La Fête de l’estampe held on May 26 throughout France, which is a celebration of engravers. 2018 will be the fourth time they have organized a “Fête des Imprimeurs à Strasbourg” and this year it is a special celebration in honor of the Gutenberg Year (the commemoration of 550 years of the death of Gutenberg).

Learn more:

L’Espace Européen Gutenberg (EEG) est une association qui œuvre pour l’ouverture d’un Conservatoire & ateliers de l’imprimerie et des arts graphiques à Strasbourg. L’EEG organise tous les deux ans une Fête des Imprimeurs à Strasbourg aux alentours du jour de la Saint-Jean.

En 2018, cette 4e édition s’inscrit dans le cadre de 2018: Année Gutenberg (commémoration des 550 ans de la mort de Gutenberg)*, elle met en lumière 6 lieux emblématiques dans le cœur historique de Strasbourg dans lesquels des professionnels donnent des explications, pour présenter leur métier en lien direct ou indirect avec le livre, qu’ils exercent toujours aujourd’hui. Les visiteurs sont invités à s’arrêter à différents ateliers démonstratifs et participatifs. Par ce parcours, il est proposé de découvrir les inspirations de Gutenberg et comment son invention a été révolutionnaire.

Princeton awards honorary degree to Librarian of Congress

Carla Diane Hayden, Doctor of Humane Letters

Quoted from program: “Carla Diane Hayden was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress on Sept. 14, 2016. She is the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library. Previously, she was CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore for more than 20 years.

She began her library career in 1973 at the Chicago Public Library, where she held several positions, including as deputy commissioner and chief librarian. She taught at the University of Pittsburgh and also worked at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. When she served as president of the American Library Association from 2003 to 2004, her theme was “equity of success.”

In 1995, she received the Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year Award in recognition of her outreach services at the Pratt Library, which included an after-school center for Baltimore teens offering homework assistance and college and career counseling. She received her bachelor’s degree from Roosevelt University and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago Graduate Library School.

Amid the unrest following the death of Freddie Gray in 2015, she kept the doors open at Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library, providing a safe haven for a community in distress. During her more than two decades at Pratt, she modernized and revived the 22-branch library system, making it a home for people from all walks of life. In 2016, she became the first person of color and the first woman to serve as the Librarian of Congress. A descendant of people once denied the right to read — and punished for trying — she now leads the country’s national symbol of knowledge. Heralded as a “librarian freedom fighter,” she champions open access to information and education for all.”